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Jean Chatzky
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By Jean Chatzky

Bundling your auto and homeowner's insurance policies with the same company can cut your bill by 15%, and raising your deductible to $1,000 from $500 can save you up to 25%.

There also are ways to keep costs low and make the most of your coverage. This mostly has to do with how you navigate the claims process.

Here's what to do the next time the unexpected happens:

YOUR STUFF

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By Jean Chatzky

If you'd asked me a few years ago how to prioritize your bills when there isn't enough money to go around, I'd have given you a set formula to follow: Necessities - mortgage, essential utilities and secured debts like a car loan - come first, followed by credit card and other unsecured debt.

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By Jean Chatzky

You've probably heard people you trust who are smart about money issues, your parents or me say that pulling money out of your 401(k) or other tax-advantaged retirement account before age 59-1/2 is a huge mistake. Why is that usually true?

Not only are you taxed on the amount you withdraw, but you're also hit with a 10% penalty for taking an early distribution. After the government's bite, you're left with a little more than half of what you took out - maybe even less.

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By Jean Chatzky

We've come to rely on the Internet as a communications device, bank and shopping mall all in one. We video chat with family and friends in other countries, e-mail co-workers just steps away, buy clothes and even our groceries, and handle financial transactions of every kind.

It's convenient, of course, and it's also a little risky. Scammers have long been taking advantage.

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By Jean Chatzky

In April of this year, unemployment was still bordering on 10% and underemployment much higher, so I'm getting as tired of giving the same-old financial and job-hunting advice as you're likely of hearing it. Sometimes what you need is a wow of an idea that catapults you into the fast lane. I've found new research on where these brilliant ideas tend to come from.

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By Jean Chatzky

There's been much talk lately that the recent recession is long over and the economy is turning around.

That's great news for all of you - assuming you're coming out of the recession with the rest of the country. But what if you're not? What if you're stuck in a career that hasn't turned the corner or your home's value is far below what you paid for it?

What if you're still mired in your own personal recession?

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By Jean Chatzky

I haven't switched cell phone providers in years. I have a large plan, with phones for my husband, kids and a few people who work for me. More than a few times, a customer service rep has bailed me out when we've gotten close to our allotted number of minutes, tacking on a couple hundred extra that month to hold us over. Because of this, I can't imagine switching services, no matter how much my kids plead for a fancy new phone only available from a competitor.

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By Jean Chatzky

Most purchases are cut and dried: you see a price tag, the store tacks on tax, you get a total and pay. There shouldn’t be any surprises, like maintenance costs or hidden fees, when you buy groceries or clothes.

Other purchases — like a car — are a lot less easy. The number scrawled across the windshield never tells the full story.

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by Jean Chatzky

This country’s economic crisis has us all wondering what the future holds. Will the new President be able to reinvigorate the economy?  When will the housing market rebound? 

For months, economists have been debating these issues.  After all, that’s a big part of their job.  But for the average investor, it might be better to focus on the past.

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By Jean Chatzky

Are we raising a generation of spoiled children? As a mother, it’s a question I ask myself often, and a topic I’ve debated more than a few times with friends. 

I’ve seen teenagers with cell phones so high tech I can’t begin to understand them, and cars twice as nice as mine.  The new iPhone has become the ultimate status symbol for not just the twenty-something crowd, but for tweens and teenagers as well.

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